On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, at age 90, longtime Fox Chapel resident Barbara Stamy died peacefully at Longwood at Oakmont. Beloved wife for 50 years of the late Lloyd Franklin Stamy, she was also predeceased by her parents, Jonathan Lee Owens and Ruth Loucié Hogan Owens, as well as a younger sister, Shirley Ruth Owens Triplett (Mrs. William W. Triplett, Jr.). A devoted and loving mother to Lloyd Franklin Stamy, Jr. (Mary Margaret) of Fox Chapel, Stephen Reese Stamy of Shadyside, Cynthia Scott Stamy of London, England, and Susan Blythe Stamy Peterson of Charleston, South Carolina, Barbara is also survived by three cherished grandchildren, Caroline MacLauchlin Stamy, Hayden Grace Stamy and Jonathan Patton Stamy.
A Regent Square native, Barbara was valedictorian of the 1943 class at Wilkinsburg High School. Awarded a Senatorial full academic scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, she majored in English and Psychology, earning her bachelor's degree in three years by attending both the University of Wisconsin and the School of Music at Carnegie-Mellon University during the summers to study drama and music. Many years later, in 1972, she also earned a master's degree in Child Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.
An adventuresome world traveler and voracious reader, Barbara was passionate about life and virtually everyone she met, and through song, many others she hadn't. Conveying her love of people and life through music was a half century long endeavor, as her professional singing career spanned six decades, from the mid 1940s through the early 1990s. She was presented by The Pittsburgh Concert Society and appeared in Civic Light Opera and Pittsburgh Playhouse productions. Beyond appearing as soloist in several oratorio and cantata performances with Pittsburgh area choirs and orchestras, Mrs. Stamy also sang at various houses of worship, including the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, as the soprano soloist at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Shadyside, alto soloist at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, and the contralto in the solo quartet at Temple Sinai.
Although recognized later in her career for singing classical and sacred repertoire, the former Barbara Lee Owens is often remembered as a songstress of Broadway show tunes and for her live weekly radio program on KDKA during the late 1940s entitled Songs You Love to Hear. It was music of that genre which propelled her into the national spotlight. In 1947, at age 21, Barbara won the Wilkens Amateur Hour and was signed by the Breakfast Cheer Coffee Company, sponsor of the Songs You Love to Hear program that was broadcast live every Monday evening from KDKA Radio's Studio A. Because of the station's dominant signal (50,000 clear channel watts), the show could be heard east of the Mississippi and from New England to Florida. Moreover, because the majority of other AM stations had to sign-off at night, KDKA was a beacon of evening family entertainment prior to television.
Barbara leaves behind a musical legacy from that golden age of radio. Master broadcast discs from the show survived for more than 60 years, and digitized tracks from those recordings were recently released as a six-album collection of CDs that are available through her website at www.barbaraleeowens.com or by download from iTunes, Amazon and other digital retailers.
Friends will be received Friday, September 16, 2016, from 6-8 p.m. at JOHN A. FREYVOGEL SONS, INC., (freyvogelfuneralhome.com), 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street, Shadyside, and a Memorial Service celebrating Barbara's life will be held at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, 5121 Westminster Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, on Saturday, September 17, 2016, at 11 a.m. followed by a reception. Memorial gifts may be made to the church, earmarked for its Music Ministry.
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Sept. 9 to Sept. 16, 2016